Opportunities and the trials thereof


What’s that, you say? It’s April, and my last entry was in October? Surely you jest.

*checks calendar* Welp! Would you look at that?

You know how sometimes you get busy on something and fall down the rabbit hole? Well, I just found a rabbit hole that was six months deep. The geological surveys have been most fascinating, and now, um… it appears that I have surfaced. So how’ve you been? Good, I hope. As for me, I’m not even sure if I can tell you whether I’ve been good or not. It’s mostly been a blur.

I did manage to scrape out my 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo, and have been working steadily (if distressingly slowly) on my new novel ever since. It is currently titled Forgotten God of the Valley, and no, it is not about how a cryogenically-frozen Ed Wood has secretly been controlling events in Los Angeles for the last fifty years… although… hang on. *scribbles frantically in “Ideas” notebook*

I’m trying to finish the first draft of said novel before I head off to the Futurescapes writing conference in a few weeks, but honestly, it’ll be something of a miracle if I succeed. Life has simply not been accommodating the last few months, what with family illnesses and financial setbacks and other boring real-life nonsense frequently wresting the steering wheel out of my hands. What I’ve got down is pretty awesome, though, I think. Most days. Occasionally I think it’s garbage that will never sell. I have been told this is normal, but I’m not gonna lie: those are some pretty unnerving moments.

One of the things that has kept me going through those dark doubtful days has been my involvement in Brandon Sanderson’s writing class at BYU. Y’know how I said I’d applied for that, and was nervous about it? Well, I got in! And it has been AMAZING. The lecture series from past years is available on YouTube, and he’s a guy who knows both how to teach an entertaining class and how to run a business as a writer. He delivers fantastically useful information on both ends.

The real magic, though, comes after the big-class lecture, when those of us in the little master class portion sit down together. There are 15 of us, and we spend half an hour or so with Sanderson getting answers to questions that either aren’t applicable to the larger class or that he’s not comfortable answering in front of 250 kids, any of which might be recording. Here he has given us detailed breakdowns of the percentages we can expect to get in contracts, what rights to fight to keep, the benefits of creating an LLC as a pro writer, and individualized information on specific agents and editors. Pure gold, all of it.

Then he splits us into our groups of five, and we give each other feedback on the writing we submitted for that week. Every third week, Brandon sits in on our group and gives individualized feedback to each of us. The value here is incalculable. Having one of the top names in the field reading my work and saying, “Here are the things that aren’t working and here’s what’s good” is fantastic. Also hella intimidating, as you might imagine, but I try to swallow my way past that each time.

And, of course, I get feedback from my writing group members each week. This is a first for me – I’ve never had anybody operating at more or less the same level as me give me sustained support and feedback. I love it. With only two class meetings remaining, we’re trying to figure out how to keep the group meeting and functioning once the semester ends. I need a writing group, like, for the rest of my life. Not to mention that a bunch of these kids are going to be published within the next few years, because they’re awesome.

One last fantastic opportunity I have coming up is a writer’s getaway for myself and my earliest collaborator, a fellow named Adam Lawson. He’s someone I grew up with, and one of my earliest writing endeavors was a screenplay that he and I wrote at the age of 18 when, upon returning from an opening-day screening of Batman and Robin in 1997, we said, “We could write something better than that garbage!”

The screenplay we wrote, entitled Batman Fallen, was arguably no better than Joel Schumacher’s ridiculous film, but it was my first serious attempt at writing, and Adam and I have worked on lots of other things together over the years. He’s now the creator/showrunner of a show called Escape the Night on YouTube Red and has made an impressive career for himself in Hollywood, but he’s going to take a few days off and meet me for a few days of non-stop writing at what I think will be an awesome location:


This is Ravenwood Castle, a themed get-away hotel in the heartland of Ohio. I have no idea how Adam stumbled onto their website in the first place, but we’ve been talking about doing this for years, and we’re finally getting around to it. My wife has given me the go-ahead (coincidentally, she’s Adam’s sister), and we’re finally going to get started on that desert-world IP we’ve been noodling over for ages.

Looking over all this, I have to admit that I have been granted some amazing opportunities this last little while. I frequently get overwhelmed with the pace of it all and my own perceived inability to capitalize on what I’ve got in front of me… but it will all fall into place. Maybe not how I expect or when I expect, but things will work out. I know they will.

Well, no, I suppose if we’re talking literally, I don’t actually know that. But I have faith. Faith in God, faith in myself, and faith in those who love and support me. And honestly, I’d rather have all that than the knowing, because faith impels a person to action, while knowing a thing is passive in nature.

I’m waxing philosophic, which must mean I’m done. Be well, everyone, and check back soon for more news.

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